Volunteer Outreach; Serving the poor a ray of hope
The King's Fishers Ministry
"When I was hungry you fed me... when I was naked you gave me clothing", this passage from Matthew 25;35 -40 is at the core of The King's Fishers Ministry "mission in the park". Richard Burroughs was first led on his mission in Summer 2012.
"In June of 2012, our oldest son Joshua began attending school at ITT San Bernardino. During his first quarter, he had a class in the morning and then another in the afternoon. Rather than making two trips, we decided to stay in San Bernardino for the day. After the first week, we decided to take lunch with us. So while Joshua was in class, I decided to find a park where we could go for a picnic in between his classes. I came across Meadowbrook park, and we had a small picnic there that day. While at the park, I met a homeless man and invited him to have lunch with us. That day we were able to share our food with four homeless men. Driving home to Hemet that day, I felt like the Lord began asking me if I would do this every week. Knowing the financial struggles that my family was going through, I argued with God, saying how would we be able to do that. Then it was as though the Lord told me, “I did not ask you how you would do it, I asked if you were willing to do it.” So I said yes Lord, I am willing, and since then, He has provided the means each and every week. Since then, my wife and I go out every Saturday with our three children and share a sack lunch and drink, and the Word of God with the people in the park. During the past 15 months, we have built relationships with several of the people in the park, whom we now call our friends."
President of The King's Fishers Ministry
Campaign Against Hunger
In America there are 566,000 restaurants. If each one only wasted one pound of food a day this would amount to 283 tons in just one day. This would be enough food to feed 1.5 million hungry children. Restaurants must do more to eliminate food waste. If allowed to continue wasting this vast amount of food, In a years time American restaurants will have wasted enough food to have fed the entire United States at least once.
- in 2012 15 % of Americans were living in poverty
- In 2012 6 million people accessed emergency food from food pantries and soup kitchens
- In 2011 4,8 million seniors did not have enough food to eat
Statistics provided by feedingamerica.org
Issues affecting the homeless
What are some of the issues affecting homelessness? Some of the things affecting the homeless are the same things you and I take for granted.
- A place to shower
- Clean and dry clothes
- Shaving supplies
- Enough food
- access to health and dental care
- Job training skills
- A warm bed
- Safe drinking water
Homeless by city
Although the overall homeless population has decreased by 129,000 since 2005, there are still over 633,000 homeless living in the United States.
- New York has 51,000 homeless living in shelters with an additional 3,100 living on the street
- Los Angeles, only 4% of homeless, estimated at between 42,000 and 51,000, live in shelters. Yet the county has rarely invoked a California statute that would allow public facilities to shelter the homeless.
- San Diego, with 10,000 homeless, is the third largest homeless population in the U.S.
Sources The Voice of San Diego, The Huffington Post, Coalition for the Homeless,
Laws Protecting the Homeless
Rhode Island was the first state in the union to pass a Homeless Bill of Rights. In 2012 Rhode Island Representatives Christopher Blazejewski and Edith H Ajello sponsored the bill. The bill is a historic landmark in homeless rights. Government, police, healthcare workers, landlords, can no longer treat the homeless unfair because of their situation.
"Today, in Rhode Island, hatred, bigotry, and discrimination is not accepted," said John Joyce, cofounder of The Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project.
Source Huffington Post and Rhode Island Assembly
Illinois, August 22, 2013 Governor Pete Quinn signed a Homeless Bill of Rights, becoming the second state to enact such laws protecting the homeless.
Source Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
California, Another land mark case is the Homeless bill of rights, a California Statute introduced by Assembly Member Ammiano in 2013. Among other rights, the bill allows homeless to move freely, to accept and share food, and to ask for donations.
Source California State Legislature
Connecticut, On July 11th 2013 Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed SB 896, an act concerning a Homeless persons Bill of Rights. Source Connecticut Assembly
For the Federal Definition of Homeless see (42§ USC 11302)
Should it be against the law to feed the homeless.
Laws Against the Homeless
Tampa has passed an ordinance allowing police to arrest someone for sleeping or storing stuff in a public place.
Thirteen people were arrested in Orlando FL after intending to feed the homeless.
Columbia, SC should say " If you're homeless, you can't live here." In their Emergency Homeless Response, Columbia has unfairly targeted the homeless. One of the proposed plans is to have police shuttle Homeless to a shelter outside of downtown. Homeless people would only be able to leave by shuttle, away from downtown.
St. Petersburg FL Items stored on public property may be issued a warning to remove property within 36 hours.
Tax Credits for Hiring Homeless
Utah 2013, The senate passes HB 274, a bill designed to give tax credit to companies who hire homeless workers for at least 20 hours per week for at least 6 months. Companies who hire homeless for 20 hours for 6 months will receive a $500 tax credit, $1000 for full time workers, and $2000 for full time workers who work one year.
Source The Salt lake Tribune
Work Opportunity Tax Credit is a federal tax credit available to employers who hire from certain target groups.
Source U.S. Department of Labor
Putting a Face on the Homeless
Every city has its own share of poor, we see homeless sleeping in doorways and we look away. These photos shared by Richard and Tracy Burroughs show a different side, it looks like a family enjoying a picnic in the park. Can you tell who is homeless in the picture above? I can't, Richard Burroughs is my brother, he is the man holding the Bible, yet I had to look for him in the background. If I can not recognize my own brother, whom I've known his entire life, then maybe homeless people are just like you and I.
Companies that Hire Homeless
Greystone Bakery, a Supplier of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, hires low-income and formerly homeless workers. They are also a new type of corporation called a B corporation which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.
The Empowerment Plan hires homeless women living in Detroit Shelters so that they can earn money and find a place to live. The women make a coat that turns into a sleeping bag, the coat is then given to people living on the street.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
I Do Foundation
Department of Health and Human Sevices
National Law Center On Homelessness & Poverty
The Empowerment Plan
Federal Tax Credits
U.S. Department of Labor
The King's Fishers
What Can You Do To Help
- Donate Food and Clothing
- Organize Charitable Bake Sales
- Give to Local Food Banks
- Donate to Local Shelters
My friend Au Fait wrote a wonderful article on poverty, you can read it here.
© Robert Burroughs 2013
More thoughts on the Homeless
I have written a few smaller pieces on Bubblews, mostly just my thoughts on the homeless situation.